Following on the from the last post about some of the weird and wonderful motions that get tabled in Parliament and how often you find yourself wondering if it is a reasonable use of taxpayers money. I wonder what people would think of an MP that seemingly used taxpayers money through Parliamentary process and then made a profit from it? You'd perhaps hope that the money might be paid back to the country at least?
I ask this because I'm just wondering about the Liberal Democrat MP Lewes, Norman Baker and his recent book, The Strange Death of David Kelly. You see, the book was serialised in the Daily Mail which Baker has registered payment for, along with a contract he has with the publisher in the Register of Members' Interests. Why should this matter you might ask? Well it's how he appears do have done some of his research for the book that bothers me.
Between March 2006 and June 2007, Norman Baker asked a total of 54 Written Questions alone on the subject of David Kelly. Each of those questions requires Parliamentary staff to get involved, and then Civil Service time to answer them. The figure is open to dispute, but it is estimated it costs, on average, between £130 and £150 for each written question to be answered.
Now, obviously some cost more than others, but by my dirty calculations, Norman Baker has cost the taxpayer somewhere in the region of £7,550 to £8,100 in what seems to be the process of researching a book. He has used the privilege of Parliament to ask questions of departments on matters that have nothing to do with his consitituency or remit, and, given the publication date of the book in Octoer 2007 (and the fact there have been no more questions), it seems more than likely those questions were asked as part of that research, right?
So, shouldn't Norman Baker be paying back that money into the Parliamentary purse from the profits and advance payments from the book? After all, there are quite a few civil servants out there that look like they helped contribute to it without any credit. Not to mention the rest of us technically.
Update: Someone in the comments says the cost figure is wrong and it is closer to a thousand pounds. Which would mean significantly more money. A call/letter to Parliament may be required to get the most recent known cost I think.